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Marseille wants to (re)create a financial centre


Written by Frédéric Dubessy on Thursday, April 7th 2022 à 14:55 | Read 141 times



Cefim stopped its activities almost four years ago (logo: Cefim)
Cefim stopped its activities almost four years ago (logo: Cefim)
FRANCE. "It will be a place where all the players in the financing sector can talk to each other". On the occasion of a review of the 2021 balance sheet of Région Sud Investissement (RSI), on Wednesday 6 April 2022 in Marseille, Bernard Kleynhoff, President of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur Region's Economic and Digital Development, Industry, Export and Attractiveness Commission, confirmed that he wanted to create a financial centre in Marseille. Or rather to recreate it.

Recreate, because it already existed. Located in the premises of the Palais de la Bourse, the headquarters of the Marseille-Provence Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCIMP), whose president Henry Roux-Alezais had encouraged the launch, the Mediterranean Economic and Financial Community (CEFIM) had been bringing together the economic players of the Aix-Marseille-Provence region since 1988. Its activity came to an end at the end of December 2018, when it had three full-time employees and organised around thirty events per year. The decision to close down the association was due to the non-renewal of the CCIMP's annual membership fee of €140,000. The memberships of its 130 members, but also the financial support of Euronext and EnterNext, were no longer sufficient to maintain a balanced budget.

At that time, several structures based in the city of Marseille had also had to close down due to arbitration by their main financiers: Finances et Conseil Méditerranée (FCM - rallying the professions of the finance world), during the summer of 2017, the Office of Economic Cooperation for the Mediterranean and the East (OCEMO - network of Mediterranean networks) in October 2017, the Mediterranean Institute of Maritime Transport (IMTM), also in the same month, the Agency for Entrepreneurship in the Mediterranean (ACIM - Accompanying the creation of companies in the Mediterranean and supporting entrepreneurs from the Maghrebian diasporas wishing to invest in their country of origin) in December 2018...

 

Frédéric Ronal had already tried to relaunch the financial centre, but had to give up due to lack of funding (photo: F.Dubessy)
Frédéric Ronal had already tried to relaunch the financial centre, but had to give up due to lack of funding (photo: F.Dubessy)

"Everyone wants a financial centre, but no one wants to pay!

As early as May 2018, Frédéric Ronal, vice-president of the CCIMP, mentioned in econostrum.info the possibility of launching a new financial centre on the scale of the Aix-Marseille-Provence Metropolis. "Marseille is one of the last major metropolises not to have a real financial centre," he lamented, as he considered forging links with Casablanca Finance City, founded in July 2010.

At the time, a consultancy firm had worked on the subject with the task of "comparing existing financial centres, what they offered to their ecosystem and giving their opinion on what worked and what didn't," explains Frédéric Ronal, exclusively for econostrum.info. 50,000 was invested in this study.

With his dual role as vice-president of the CCIMP and president of the Comité Régional des Banques, he was the ideal person to put this idea into action. "In the end, we realised that there was a strong disparity. This allowed us to have a clear idea of what we wanted to launch by taking the best of what was being done elsewhere to save time, be more efficient and useful for the territory," he continues.

"We planned to recruit three employees and budgeted the necessary resources at between €300,000 and €500,000 per year to get started," recalls Frédéric Ronal. He then took up his pilgrim's staff to present the project and go and find the necessary funds. And that's when everything got complicated... "We wanted a mixed model with subsidies via public funds and services paid for by the companies, as well as resources committed by lawyers, accountants, consultants, etc. The platform would have been a prescriptor for them and part of the sums would have been paid back to it to balance it out. All of them, companies as well as legal and accounting professionals, said no! They wanted us to offer the services first to see how it went and then they would have paid." The same was true of the Metropolis, which was asked to provide a subsidy for the start-up, in the absence of acceptance of the proposed system. "We didn't want to go it alone. Everyone wants a financial centre, but no one wants to pay! "Frédéric Ronal laments.

So a new financial centre supported by the Region? "Why not? At the time, a regional platform didn't make sense because the services to be provided to companies are not the same according to their typology. We had proposed to the Region to join the project, and that we could then duplicate it in Nice, but they had not agreed," he reveals. Before affirming, "we are delighted if the Region wants to relaunch the financial centre. The studies are still available, we can take over the file. It is better to avoid rewriting what already exists. On the other hand, I don't want to take it back for nothing, but I agree to reopen it provided that it is in a positive way to help our companies." The hand is extended...
 

A regional financial centre

Bernard Kleynhoff promises a new financial centre in Marseille in 2022 (photo: F.Dubessy)
Bernard Kleynhoff promises a new financial centre in Marseille in 2022 (photo: F.Dubessy)
After having been local, failed (in every sense of the word) and reborn as a metropolitan, the future financial centre will be regional.

It will complete the action of Ambition Capital. Baptised in September 2020 by regional private equity players (about twenty funds including RSI), this association brings together members from Marseille, Nice and Corsica. Its objective is to "better address the needs of regional companies". What is missing is the banker component that Bernard Kleynhoff wants to add to the new financial centre. "With the presence of the banks, we will be able to share files, be more attractive and increase the volume of financing", explains the president of the Economic and Digital Development, Industry, Export and Attractiveness Commission of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur Region.

"It is important to have the bankers. We are competitors, but, on projects of regional scale, we can, perhaps, become partners", adds Alain Lacroix, president of Région Sud Investissement. His structure, an investment company of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur Region financed at 50% by the European Feder funds, sets an example in this matter. "We have granted sixty-six loans in 2021 for an amount of €9.46 million, whereas our usual rate is forty-five loans per year," comments Pierre Joubert, general manager of RSI. According to its president, this makes it the fourth largest national public and private investor (7th in 2020) in terms of the number of capital operations.

"Having a financial centre will help us to be even more efficient in investments and services to companies," assures Bernard Kleynhoff. It should officially see the light of day "in 2022", he promises, without however giving a precise date.



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